Tips for Musicians During the Pandemic
by Robert Flis / May 29, 2020
Arthur Kalimidis is a music entrepreneur with many years of experience in the music industry. As the founder of Landmark Events and Uncovered Art Canada, two companies focused on putting together showcase events in the realms of art and music, he has an impressive track record of success and gained a deep understanding of what it takes to market and promote bands, artists and events. Like many of us in the music industry, Arthur’s business has been profoundly affected by Covid-19 and the resulting restrictions that have been placed on public gatherings. But you won’t hear him complaining about it. We spoke with Arthur at our Music Industry Talks, and asked him his thoughts on the current landscape of the industry and how he thinks artists and musicians should be leveraging the situation to their advantage.
What is your advice for musicians who are trying to promote their music right now and leverage the various platforms available?
Shows are not the only way to monetize your music. It’s a big way these days, but you have radio royalties, you have streaming royalties, you have sponsorships, you have music placement opportunities. The reality is, the most time should be spent writing and trying to come up with an extremely competitive product. I remember when I was young, I was in a band and we had 10 songs written and we were going and playing shows. That’s ok, go play shows, but you’re competing with the whole world. You’re competing for a small piece of the pie if you want to get on radio or you want to get on the biggest Spotify playlists or break through the clutter and be the most popular artist in your space. I think this can be looked at as an opportunity to 1) really write some great stuff and really master your craft. Improve your songwriting, your production, your sound. Really come up with something that has a ton of identity and is going to be really competitive. And 2) it’s really an opportunity to develop a strategy so that when you’re putting your music out there, you’re not only getting distribution for it through DistroKid or TuneCore and then putting it on your Facebook page. That’s not a strategy. If you look at indie or major labels, there’s a process when they release. For some artists that’s radio. For some artists that’s having a budget for online ads. Some artists literally buy YouTube ads and the ad is their video. For some artists and labels it’s a combination of print, online publications, Spotify playlists and different types of radio. That combined with an amazing looking Facebook page, videos that you’ve made, good engagement and maybe YouTube covers, so that you’re starting to get things flowing in from all these different marketing channels and trying anything and everything to get viral growth. But again, at the end of the day that won’t work unless the product is good because you need friends telling each other about it. I think most music spreads because either DJs decide to play it or friends decide to show other friends and eventually it grows, so you can have an amazing strategy but if it doesn’t resonate with people, it’s not going to work. So keep writing really good stuff and put it out there with a strategy behind it.
What are the biggest mistakes you’ve seen bands make when it comes to releasing music?
I can’t tell you how many bands I’ve seen drop $12,000 on an album that just becomes a coffee coaster because it’s just so much about the music. They drop the album, there’s nothing behind it, there’s no tour, no PR, no radio. It’s unfortunate. Record two songs [instead of 12] and use more money to push those songs. Music is not like selling pencils or shoes. You don’t have to have a production line. You create the product one time and that same product can be sold many times. That is an advantage with music. You make money off music placement, radio royalties, things like that. So essentially, your budget for marketing it or touring should be more than the budget for the song itself. That’s how it works with labels why should it work any differently with independent artists?
Is it a good time to be releasing music right now?
Yeah, release music because building your brand is not going to happen in a month. It can take 6 months, it can take a year. And if things do recover again in a year and they’re running festivals again, big festivals program way ahead of time. So if you can figure out how to build your brand in 6 months, there are probably going to be opportunities arising 3 or 4 months from then. It’s an opportunity to find a way to build an online presence. Right now, unless you figure out a way to build a presence and have a fan base in some different markets to try and attract the attention of booking agents and festival promoters and whatnot, those types of events where you actually get paid and have decent guarantees - are not going to happen. So figure out how to market yourself because it’s not an overnight thing. And once you have that awareness, you want to keep it going. You want to keep releasing stuff and have a ton of engagement on all your online platforms. Even McDonald’s still advertises, even though everyone knows McDonald’s. Why? They’ve got to keep people engaged, thinking about it, getting excited for their next burger. You’ve got to keep people excited about your next song. It’s an ongoing thing. If anything, this is an opportunity to put stuff out there, and have more dedicated time to do it and try things.
Musicians have always had to adapt to changing times, whether it be through advancing technology, the emergence of new trends or shifting business models, and this situation is no different. As difficult as it will be to navigate the challenges of the post-pandemic music industry, artists will find a way. Arthur’s message reflects that – use this time to develop your craft and invest in marketing yourself and we will all come out of this ok.
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